Liz’s decision to transition to a less demanding role at La Mama signals a tectonic shift in the arts landscape, however, her legacy is one of unparalleled commitment to the artists, performers, staff and audiences who have made La Mama the institution it is today.
Liz joined La Mama in 1973 after meeting founder Betty Burstall and became Artistic Director in 1976. After five decades at the helm, Liz now feels it’s time to pass the torch to the next generation, a difficult decision, though one that invites new artistic voices to help shape the evolution of La Mama into the future.
“I step down from these positions of responsibility with both great relief and a heavy heart!” said Liz. “But I know La Mama is in good hands and believe it will have a brilliant future. And I hope to be in the audience of that important institution for many years to come.”
As a La Mama elder, Liz will remain a member of staff when she ends her tenure as Artistic Director in late March reading over playscripts and providing feedback, as well as working on La Mama’s Lost History project, which aims to recover the stories and history lost from her diaries in the devastating blaze that gutted La Mama HQ in 2018.
Throughout her time at La Mama, Liz has overseen the production of countless works, the mentoring of thousands of artists, fundraising of $1.7 million to purchase the Faraday Street theatre space in 2008, and the planning for La Mama HQ’s rebuild following the fire in 2018.
The remainder of the 2023 La Mama season has been programmed by Liz, across both La Mama Theatre HQ in Faraday St and the neighbouring Courthouse Theatre in Carlton.
“Liz Jones’ love for La Mama, for Australian stories, and for independent theatre is baked into the bricks of our buildings and the workings of the La Mama team every day,” said Richard Watts, Chair of La Mama’s Committee of Management.
“From the outset she conceived of La Mama as an artist-led theatre and today we celebrate that vision, as well as Liz’s remarkable commitment – not just to our theatre but to the arts across Australia.”
“Having watched Liz guide La Mama and its staff through many tempestuous years, including most recently the 2018 fire and the COVID-induced lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, the Committee of Management are thankful that Liz will stay on at La Mama in a new role as one of the company’s much-respected Elders.”
“Her knowledge of the Australian theatre sector is unparalleled and while she will no longer be our Artistic Director after March this year, we know that her wisdom and experience will continue to guide us when the need arises.”
“Thank you Liz – we love you, respect you, and are eternally grateful for your long and careful custodianship of La Mama over the last five decades.”
“As you now pass on that role to the next generation of custodians, we look forward to celebrating your tenure and legacy on Friday 31 March at what’s sure to be one hell of a party,” said Watts.
“La Mama offers all comers another chance. It welcomes and encourages the marginalised, the deviant, the other, the quiet ones, the noisy ones,” said Liz. “It gives them all a voice. And such an artistic voice was offered to me and my partner Lloyd Jones 50 years ago!”
“I never tire of seeing work at La Mama. I am seldom bored. I have never been tempted to move on (or up!). For me a great performance at La Mama is as good as it gets. And I have seen many inspiring performances there.”
In line with La Mama’s long-term succession plan, La Mama’s current co-CEO, Caitlin Dullard, will take over the role from April. For more information, visit: www.lamama.com.au for details.
Image: Dr Liz Jones AO – courtesy of La Mama Theatre